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The Role of Science in a National Ocean Policy Dr. Robert B. Gagosian President and CEO Ocean Studies Board November 10, 2009. National Ocean Policy. “ We will restore science to its rightful place” – President Barack Obama, January 20, 2009

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The Role of Science in a National Ocean Policy Dr. Robert B. GagosianPresident and CEOOcean Studies BoardNovember 10, 2009
national ocean policy
National Ocean Policy
  • “We will restore science to its rightful place” – President Barack Obama, January 20, 2009
  • On June 12, 2009, President Obama issued a memorandum to establish an Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force with the charge to establish a National Ocean Policy and recommend a framework for effective coastal and marine spatial planning.
  • A national policy “established, guided and continuously validated by science” that ensures protection, maintenance, and restoration of oceans, our coasts and the Great Lakes.
ocean leadership s participation
Ocean Leadership’s Participation
  • Invited to present 2 formal lectures to the OPTF:
    • Role of Science in Ocean Policy
    • Science Requirements for Marine Spatial Planning
  • Participant in 4 Stakeholder Discussions including Ocean and Human Health roundtable
  • Developed 2 policy documents:
    • Deciphering the Ocean Climate System
    • Science Requirements for Marine Spatial Planning
  • Submitted comments and recommendations to the OPTF on the above topics
science priorities for a national ocean policy
Science Priorities for a National Ocean Policy
  • Changes in Ocean Productivity
  • Opening of the Arctic System
  • Forecasting and Adapting to

Sea Level Rise

  • Observing System Requirements
    • Research Priorities
    • Remote Sensing Priorities
    • In Situ Sensing Priorities
changes in ocean productivity
Ocean productivity is being affected by changes to the physics, biology and chemistry of the ocean, with implications for CO2 uptake.

Changes driven by:


Warming waters

Altered currents/upwelling

Influx of fresh water



Agricultural & urban runoff

Changes in Ocean Productivity
opening of the arctic
Opening of the Arctic
  • Arctic is particularly sensitive to climate change.
  • Loss of sea ice will have a huge impact on Earth’s energy budget and has tremendous international implications.
  • Poor understanding of ocean-ice interactions & ability to accurately predict rate of glacial, permafrost or sea-ice loss.
  • Lack of sufficient instrumentation for real-time observations.
sea level rise
Sea-Level Rise
  • Could be 1 m or more depending on ice sheet melt
  • 0.5 meter rise translates into a 100 year flood occurring annually
  • There will be further loss of protective wetlands & penetration of salinity into estuaries and coastal aquifers
  • Economic and social disruptive impacts are tremendous
framework for ocean coordination recommendations
Framework for Ocean Coordination Recommendations
  • JSOST has facilitated science collaboration
    • e.g. Ocean Research Priorities Plan (being refreshed)
    • Need to update structure to meet emerging priorities
  • NOPP has successfully managed and funded interagency science programs
  • Budget integration/authority is the weak link
    • Need for enhanced role of OMB in the process
    • Need for integrated climate budget and corresponding ocean budget
  • Examples of inadequate coordination: climate research, ocean observations & oceans and human health research
international collaborations
International Collaborations

The oceanic and climate change are global issues that cannot be addressed unilaterally. They also provide an opportunity to leverage resources, promote technology transfer and improve foreign relations.

  • Satellites – Opportunities for collaboration/data sharing
  • Arctic – Competing interests & claims on resources – yet shared need for research and monitoring
  • Successful International Ocean programs include the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program and the Census of Marine Life
implementation priorities
Implementation Priorities
  • Ocean Observing System
  • Part of a climate/earth observing architecture
  • Sustained remote sensing of ocean topography, sea surface wind vectors & ocean color
  • In situ biological & chemical sensor development & deployment (e.g. pH)
  • Particular need for Arctic observing system to monitor atmosphere-ice-ocean interactions
implementation priorities1
Implementation Priorities
  • Ocean Acidification Program
  • To monitor, understand and predict impacts on ecosystems
  • pH sensors need to be developed and deployed in observing systems such as IOOS, OOI & Argo.
  • Program to study ecosystem response to acidification.
  • Investigate the interplay between ecosystems and biogeochemical cycling in an increasingly acidic ocean.
implementation priorities2
Implementation Priorities
  • Large-Scale Marine Ecosystem Studies
  • Emphasize ecosystem-based approaches to management
  • Link coastal & offshore ocean and terrestrial watershed ecosystems
  • Require core set of observing and modeling systems
  • Need to focus on areas affected by urban processes
implementation priorities3
Implementation Priorities
  • Need for an Integrated Ocean/Climate/Earth Observation System and Science Budget
  • Existing patchwork of agencies and programs is insufficient to meet the growing demand for information.
  • No single federal agency has the mission, ability or resources to develop, build and maintain the required architecture for a sustained, long-term, global climate observing and science system.
  • OSTP needs the budget authority to develop, request and manage a dedicated climate/ocean observation system and science budget.
ocean research priorities plan refresh
Ocean Research Priorities Plan Refresh
  • Initial ORPP release Jan 2007
  • “Refresh” initiated Spring 2009
  • Public comment period closed mid-July
  • ORPP helped inform the content of priorities identified in the Task Force Interim Report
  • Draft Refresh ORPP to be discussed at Town Halls
    • MTS/IEEE (October)
    • AGU (December)
    • Ocean Sciences Meeting (February 2010)
national ocean council dual level council
National Ocean CouncilDual Level Council


  • Periodically Update and Set Priorities
  • Provide Annual Direction on Implementation
  • Dispute Resolution

Deputy Level (NORLC)

  • Oversight of Execution of Implementation
  • Transmit Administration Priorities to Subcommittees
  • Coordinate with other EOP Offices
  • Guide and Receive Info from Advisory Bodies
  • Dispute Resolution
noc steering committee 4 members
NOC Steering Committee(4 Members)
  • Chair CEQ
  • Director OSTP

One chair “each”

  • Chair of Ocean Resource Management IPC
  • Chair of Ocean Science and Technology IPC


  • Key Forum for Integration and Coordination on Priorities Areas within the NOC
  • Ensure ORM & OST IPC Activities Fully Aligned
  • Extended Continental Shelf Task Force reports to Steering Committee
governance advisory committee 13 members
Governance Advisory Committee(13 Members)

(6) One From Each Region

  • Chosen by NOC in consultation with regional councils

(2) At-Large From Inland States

  • chosen by NOC in consultation with NGA

(3) Alaska, Pacific Islands, Caribbean

  • chosen by NOC in consultation with regional groups

(2) At-Large Tribal Representatives

  • Chosen by NOC in consultation with Indian organization
ocean science and technology interagency policy committee
Ocean Science and TechnologyInteragency Policy Committee


  • NSTC-JSOST serves as the OST-IPC
  • Reports to NSTC/CENR
  • Chairs appointed thru NSTC, in consultation with NOC
  • DAS-Level Participation


  • Ensure Interagency Implementation of National Policy
  • Develop (update) ORPPIS
  • Develop Charter, Strategic Plan –Approval by NSTC
  • May Establish Sub-IPCs
ocean research and resources advisory panel
Ocean Research and Resources Advisory Panel
  • Existing Body (ORRAP)
  • FACA Advisory Body to NORLC (Dep-Level NOC)
  • Membership: To Be Reviewed
  • Provide Independent Advice & Guidance to NOC
  • Receive Guidance and Direction from NOC
economic impacts and jobs
Economic Impacts and Jobs
  • Information is a commodity – there is a wealth of data in the ocean that has tremendous economic value.
  • Exporting Technology – every nation requires the ability to acquire, integrate and disseminate environmental information and will make investments to access the required technology.
  • Protecting lives, property and jobs – the ability to accurately forecast future conditions based on ocean parameters such as sea-level has enormous implications for building sustainable healthy communities.